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Will paddle shifters be the future of automotive transmissions?

By FaezClutchless on 09 May 2012

Attached Image: 2012_nissan_GT_R_steering_wheel.jpg

It is evident that many automakers nowadays feature automated-manual transmissions (that usually comes with a paddle shifter) in their performance cars. In other words, these automated-manual transmissions with paddle shifters are the in-thing now. Every technology in our lives are ever changing and getting replaced with new and better ones and will paddle shifting transmissions replace manual ones and even conventional auto gearboxes totally?

Attached Image: paddle_shifter.jpg

I have asked the above mentioned question to several car owners; both performance and ordinary car owners and they are in their 20s up to 40s (age range). Below are their opinions.

Many felt that manual transmissions will still be the choice of hardcore drivers who prefer the shift stick and clutch pedal combination. It would be hard to remove the manual stick and clutch pedal feeling from them. And there are some who believe that these automated-manual (or dual clutch) transmissions will sit well in between conventional automatic transmissions drivers and sports-orientated drivers.

In a way, it is probably ideal for drivers who have problems with the stick and clutch pedal combination or drivers who are simply canít be bothered to use them. Another thing that was mentioned is the advantage of a dual clutch transmission which is the prevention of miss shifting. Not everyone can shift like a pro race car driver.

In terms of costs, a dual clutch unit is definitely more expensive than a conventional automatic unit as more complex work and technology are needed to build one. And when the day dual clutch transmissions becomes reasonably inexpensive for automakers to use on their vehicles, then that will be the day we see conventional automatics being replaced with dual clutch units. Many whom I have asked strongly felt that this would happen in the near future.

There are some who felt that manual transmissions will still be around or offered by automakers for a long time. One person mentioned to me about the pleasures of driving a manual car. Driving a purely mechanical vehicle (especially a performance one) gives several forms of interaction between the driver and the machine. You can feel the clutch disengage, the point where the transmission finds its gear and also the engineís revolutions. Computerised transmissions may have its advantages but drivers are always going to have a more pleasurable experience if they remain physically connected to their cars. It is something that automated transmissions could never offer.

Another point mentioned from a friend was the future of cars. If cars are going down the electric route in the future, then is there a possibility of gearless electric motor? If the internal combustion engine is going to fall due to tree huggers and the exorbitant prices of petrol set by oil companies, then we might see gearless cars.

Lastly, this is what I feel about the future of automotive transmissions. Traditional manual transmissions will forever be preferred by a certain group of people until that generation dies. Paddle shifters (or dual clutch, whichever you prefer) have its advantages over manual ones. They shift faster and smoother, they offer better fuel mileage and they shift automatically.

As technology moves forward, older tech becomes obsolete. Although we may be sentimental towards older stuff but the new will always take over.

If you have any thoughts on the above mentioned topic, please leave them in the comment box down below.

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Written by FaezClutchless
Some say that his blood is actually RON98 petrol and some say that his right foot weighs over 20kg. But all that we know about Faez is that he loves to drive and is a JDM enthusiast.

  • 1
Ilmw May 09 2012 05:03 PM
I bluntly always state I'm a hardcore manual guy. Auto is too boring, doesn't engage the driver.

After 4.5 years with a manual Civic 1.8, my revised take is this:

Reason I hate conventional auto is the inefficiency of the torque converter. Call me a perfectionist but I simply hate the idea of losses.

Manual in this regard is ideal, but not so the human shifting the gear. Let the human make the decision when to shift, but let automation handle the actual shifting.

Automated manual or dual clutch is the best of both worlds. The former, born from F1, is delegated to niche deployments, the latter, the new wave to take over the world. The Japs just have to get onto the bandwagon.

Green? CVT? Oh please. When/What is CVT not all noise and no movement? The idea of CVT is perfect, but after so many years, where is an implementation that does not suck? Last I heard, Nissan is the only one that makes decent CVT, but it's not something the industry took note.

GrandCruiser May 09 2012 07:41 PM
Paddle shifters do not equate to dual clutch. Conventional torque converter does offer paddle shifting too.
Friendstar May 09 2012 09:30 PM
this is a very confusing article.
it is very poorly expressed.

Dual clutch and paddle shifters aren't the same thing.

Dual clutch should be compared with manual and automatic transmissions.

Paddle shifters are just the human interface.
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